5 February 2010

Thank goodness for Max Magee who’s always so good at making sense of book business developments for us lay folk.  Here’s his take on the Amazon vs Macmillan e-book pricing wars.

I don’t know, folks — I’m a little disappointed in e-readers who are bristling about the possibility of e-book prices going up to $12.99-ish.  If you love to read and you care about literature, is 13 bucks instead of 10 bucks really going to make a significant dent in your life?  Is a book not worth 13 bucks, when many of us pay 3 bucks for a cup of coffee, 12 bucks for a movie?  And if buying new books is a true financial hardship, I’m a big fan of the public library; if you keep up on what’s coming out in the near future you can usually get in line on the hold list and not have to wait too long.  E-books are now downloadable (for a specified period of time) through libraries, and sometimes they are “always available” with no wait (although I suspect there will be resistance to this from publishers, understandably, with new books).  I myself often read library books and then buy the book later, once I’ve decided it’s definitely a book I want to own.

Of course, as an author, I find it disturbing to see the prices for new books being driven down.  In case it’s not already obvious to readers, it’s very difficult to make a living as a writer; and even more difficult to devote your time and energy to writing if you are having to worry more and more about how to make a living alternatively.  I am also now an up-close witness to all the work that goes into writing, editing, designing, producing, and promoting a book.  Truly, a labor of love.

Sometimes, the Tyranny of Convenience needs to be checked, I think.

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4 February 2010

Congratulations to Karen Cooper on 38 years of building NYC’s venerable art house cinema, Film Forum!  The Museum of Modern Art is honoring Karen/Film Forum with a special exhibition of documentary films that have premiered at FF, curated by Karen.  The program opened last night and goes through Feb 20.

(FF is celebrating 40 years; Karen took over in its third year, in 1972.  I worked with Karen for about four years doing fundraising for FF.)

If you’re not a NYC-dweller, you must certainly make time for a matinee or opening night at FF next time you’re in town.  Both the new films and repertory programs are invariably fantastic.  Where else can you see an unforgettable film about an old Korean man and his ox?

3 February 2010

Sometimes, yes, Things Fall Apart; but today, they come together…

27 days to release of Long for This World.  This first shipment of hard covers are in, and tomorrow I’ll actually see it/hold it in my hand.

Press release, book group guide, events, hope for reviews, a book trailer (!) — things are happenin’.  How about that.

A gratifying convergence: my mentor from graduate school David Shields has a new book coming out in February, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto.  Look out next week for a meaty two-part interview-conversation we put together for The Millions.  It’s fun (for me) to see us criss-crossing on book tour, like here, at Brookline Booksmith (scroll down) and here at McNally Jackson.

Another piece of “coming together” good news is forthcoming; I could tell you right now, but then, well, I’d have to kill you.  And that would be terrible.

2 February 2010

In case it wasn’t clear watching the Grammys the other night: hip hop/rap is at the dead center of the music industry.  It’s still so bizarre to me watching kids in street gear riff and spit and spar on a gigantic, pyrotechnic, Hollywood stage in front of super-rich people in gala-wear.  (I know the kids are rich too, now; but still…)

Even more bizarre… but in a totally different way… NPRs Planet Money covered a story about a TV producer and an economist getting together to make economics accessible and engaging.  The result:  a pretty-good rap song about Keynes and that other guy.  Shmilarious.  And impressively educational.  Ya gotta see this.